Last updated: 23 Feb, 2024
Published on: 4 Aug, 2015
Essentials for bringing a rescue cat home
Hooray! You’ve found your purrfect match, fallen in love and finalised the adoption process. Now it’s time to take your kitty cat home to shower them with the kind of love they’ve been waiting their whole life for. Here are some handy tips to help maximise happiness and minimise hiccups while your new furry family member settles in.
Get kitted out before bringing kitty home
Whether your cat has come from a foster home, shelter or pound, it can take time for your furry feline to settle into a new environment.
New sights, sounds and smells may be a bit overwhelming at first. So do your kitty cat a favour and set up a small area to call their own for a few days or weeks.
A bedroom works well as a safe and secure spot before giving your new cat free roam of the house. Even if it’s an outdoor cat, confine them to one room in the house at first. If you want them to continue to have access to the outside, start by introducing your cat to an enclosed area of your yard to keep them safe and not put them at risk of getting lost or running away. You can read more about this here.
Essentials to buy:
- Cat carrier
- Collar and tag
- Comfy bed
- Litter tray x 2
- Kitty litter
- Food and water bowls
- Scratching posts and toys
- Cat food
Setting up the litter tray
Fill a litter tray with 2cm of kitty litter and place it in your cat’s room away from their food and where they can use it undisturbed. Cats value their privacy and safety when it comes to toilet time (don’t we all!).
Choosing a kitty litter
There are lots of different types of litter available. Check with the foster carer, shelter or pound what type of litter your cat has been happy using. Then it’s really a matter of personal preference, so be guided by your cat, but always avoid scented litters and tray liners as these turn cats off using a litter tray!
Allow one litter tray per cat, plus one extra.
It can be easy to forget in all the excitement, but letting your new cat loose in the home without giving them the chance to first make a pee pit-stop can lead to accidents. So make sure your new cat can go to the toilet as soon as they arrive home. Place them in the litter tray to give them the chance to relieve themselves.
A place to hide
When a cat comes to a new home, they need to hide. Under the bed, in a cupboard, or just an empty cardboard box will give them a safe place until they are ready to come out and explore their room.
A cosy bed and a place to climb
Even when your cat is comfortable and confident in your home, they still like to get away from it all at times, and they LOVE small spaces. So make sure your cat has a special bed or cosy hidey-hole for when they need some ‘me time’. A cat carrier, box or covered cat bed are all good options. It just needs to be big enough for your cat to stand up and turn around in.
Height is also incredibly important to a cat. A cat tree, shelves, or stacked boxes can all become your cat's new favourite spot.
Cat claws need to be worn down, and they do this by scratching on things. A scratching post or your furniture - the choice is yours!
Make life easier for all by making sure your cat has several official and approved scratching posts around your home. You can encourage your cat to use the scratching post. Select one at least a meter tall because stretching is as important to your cat as scratching, and try dangling a toy from the post. They’ll get the idea!
Toys are essential for both mental and physical exercise. Playing with your cat will help you bond, and cute cat toys are loads of fun to buy or make!
Cat tower - Let your new feline be king of kitty cat castle! Climbing up and down is good exercise for your cat and lots of fun too.
Laser - Laser toys are entertaining and a great way to keep your cat moving. But be sure to mix in some ‘real’ cat toys (like a toy mouse) so that your cat can enjoy the satisfaction of sinking his claws into something they can touch.
Wand - A flexible wand with a feather on the end is always a winner.
Plastic caps and milk bottle tops - Flick these across the floor, air hockey style. Good, cheap, recyclable fun!
Boxes - Simple cardboard boxes are what most cats love best of all! Place a few boxes around the house, or get creative and make your own cardboard obstacle course.
Find out from your cat’s foster carer, shelter or pound what food they’ve been eating and have a supply ready for when you take your cat home.
Feeding your cat quality food is an investment in your cat’s long-term health and well-being. If you decide to change the type or brand of cat food, make sure you transition slowly over several days. Start by mixing a little of the new food into the current food and gradually add more of the new food to avoid tummy upsets.
When they first arrive home, your newly adopted cat may not eat much or not at all. If your cat hasn’t eaten for a few days, call your vet for advice. Cats prefer their water bowl away from their food bowl, change the water frequently, and keep an eye on their water intake.
Unless your cat has long and luscious fur, you won’t have to brush them every day. But do have a brush on hand and groom when needed. To make sure it’s an enjoyable experience for both you and your cat, take it slowly, and watch your cat for signs they’ve had enough. Some bribery in the way of tasty treats won’t go astray if your cat isn’t used to grooming yet.
When you pick your new kitty up from the rescue group, shelter or council, don’t forget...
Make sure you have a copy of the adoption paperwork, including the adoption contract, medical records, desexing and vaccination certificates and microchip details. Also, make sure you have contact details for the rescue group so that you can easily get in touch with them should you have any follow-up questions.
Whether your new cat has come from a shelter environment, a foster home or straight from their previous home, it will take time for them to decompress, settle into their new environment and bond with their new family. Just like humans, every cat is unique and will adjust differently to their new home. Settling into a new home is not linear, and it’s completely normal to see variations in how your new furry friend is behaving day to day. Read more about what to expect post-adoption here.
Looking for more tips to welcome home a new cat? Check out Jackson Galaxy!